Courier Staff Writer
Language in the city’s park shelter reservation policy has been revised to allow “major city events” to reserve the Jimmy Jones Shelter a year in advance.
The Parks Advisory Board decided to adjust the city policy for reserving park shelters Monday night after discussion arose in the past couple months over the VFW’s reservation of the Jimmy Jones Shelter for Labor Day weekend.
At the board’s January meeting, members agreed to allow the reservation of Jimmy Jones one year in advance of a group’s event, subject to the approval of the board.
Pending another clarification by City Attorney Joni Keith, the revised policy will be taken to the City Council next week.
The amended policy will allow those groups that organize “major city events” at Jimmy Jones Shelter (such as Memorial Day weekend, Fourth of July celebration, Labor Day weekend, Ottumwa Pro Balloon Races and Race for the Cure) to submit a reservation request immediately following the event for the following year.
“This clarifies for people that if you’re having a family reunion, that’s not a ‘major city event,’” said board member Kim Hellige.
The board also continued its review of the Parks long-range plan by looking at Central, Foster and Franklin Parks.
Board president Bob Beisch said an LED community event sign would be a great way to replace the boards currently displaying community events in Central Park and would give more groups the opportunity to get the word out.
“We’ve been trying to do this for a number of years, but it’s never gotten off the ground,” Beisch said.
Parks Director Gene Rathje said the Ottumwa Public Library spent approximately $14,000 on a similar LED sign.
Rathje also said two bids have been received to remove the bricks in front of the bandstand and replace them with granite slabs behind the bandstand. This project would cost between $15,000 and $18,000.
Beisch wondered why a performing arts group would want to stage their show at Central Park when Bridge View Center is available.
“It’s a great place for a band concert, for rock groups on Friday nights,” Beisch said. “But how many groups would want to perform outside with Bridge View available? I wouldn’t if I was doing theater or in an orchestra. I’d take it to Bridge View and not do it out there and let the weather beat me around.”
Foster Park, located at East Main Street and Foster Avenue, is one of the parks department’s “big success stories,” Rathje said, with the replacement of playground equipment, resurfacing of the basketball court, new signage and improved parking.
“It’s a beautiful park,” Hellige said. “It’s a gem.”
Franklin Park, which sits at Walnut Avenue and Second Street, is seeing more use with the addition of a six-hole disc golf course.
Rathje said that while Franklin Park is just several blocks from Foster Park, it would be a good spot for some new playground equipment.
Memorial Park’s new mountain bike trail is finished, Rathje said, with all work done by volunteers over the winter.
The trail, which is exactly 4 miles long, runs from the Jewish Cemetery all the way down to the south end of the park, he said.
“The next step is to put some signs up at the trailhead entrances,” he said.
He also said he has an aerial map of the trail and plans to upload it to the city’s website.